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Old 7th August 2008, 23:13
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Hugh Ferguson Hugh Ferguson is offline  
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The author of the book very evidently had some misgivings about disclosing in the pages some events, taking place during the voyage, that may cause embarrassment, or even worse, to various people and especially the 2nd mate. And it was certainly true that rumours of sacking and even divorce were still going the rounds years after. In his epilogue to the 30th edition the good doctor writes:- 'It was only when the pile of author's copies arrived, and we (his friend the pathogist), that a certain doubt came to me. It must have been more or less in the Pathologist's mind also, for he suddenly said:
"Shall you send copies to your old shipmates?"
'The question somehow seemed to crystalise the doubt in my mind; and I began to wonder, when it was too late, how they might like being thus exhibited before the great unknown public. An uncomfortable feeling that they might not take it as kindly as it was meant assailed me. "I don't know," I said dubiously.
'Hesitating about the matter for some days, I finally came to the conclusion that on the whole it would be better not, comforting myself with the thought that sailors never read expensive books of travel, and that these old comrades of mine were away from England so much they might never hear of the liberties I had taken with their personalities.
'But the success of the book defeated me ; and when I found that the Colonial edition had been issued, I knew it was only a matter of months before I should hear from some of them.
'It was the Chief who, characteristically,broke the silence, set my mind at ease, and gave me all the news. One morning I found a letter with a Japanes postmark awaiting me.'

It's sad to conclude that in 1919, the one time 2nd mate of the Polyphemus had achieved command of the same ship, and in waters so familiar to him was responsible for grounding her on rocks departing Hong Kong. His career in Blue Funnel ended. His son did not follow him into the Blue Funnel Line: he went to sea in the Clan Line instead.
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